If you are looking for a sudden departure from all things busy and mundane, a restaurant with sensory experience, take a little detour from your everyday schedule to drive down to the Al Mouj Golf on the 18th November Street. Stick to the right lane from the slow road signal intersecting the new airport with a series of interconnecting roads, and drive in to the green paradise that has become a distinct landmark in every golf lover’s itinerary in the capital.
Now switch off – literally and figuratively – and feast your eyes on the green carpet blanketing the vast expanse of the golf course. Soak in the cool fresh air rising from the sea in the vicinity. Listen to the nature calling out pleasantries along with the chirps of birds roosting in the verdant course. Close your eyes, if you must, to brush away the images of busy roads, screeching cars, honking trucks, concrete blocks of offices and the everyday rush that you just escaped from.
You are a world away…
Regulars, of course, need no introduction to this green jewel amidst the concrete jungle. You have been relishing the sensorial pleasures, may be even using golf as a ruse to get your fill of all that it has to offer. Without taking away the import of the golf course for devoted golf enthusiasts, we lead you to The Academy Restaurant, located in the heart of the clubhouse, to complete the sensorial experience with a gustatory feast.
While we admit our golfing experience is limited to watching golfers swing the club to strike the ball with the dedication of an archer, our fascination for the game has doubled since we first made way, a couple of years ago, to the Restaurant to savour fresh juice while watching the game of golf unfolding in front of our eyes. This time around, the weather confined us indoors, but the large glass walls satiated our hunger for golfing action and the bewitching attractive green landscape.
It was late evening as we made our way to the restaurant, which has a very distinct lackadaisical ambience about it; as if it is complementing our imagery of a world away with all things relaxed and cosy. Our host, Hamdy El Douh, Food and Beverage and Operations Manager of Al Mouj Golf, was the perfect foil for the evening’s proceedings. It was still early for the Restaurant to be filled, and that was to our advantage, as we could pick a seat with a view – green on the right, evening sky ahead and live sporting action from around the world on the large television on the left.
We settled down to enjoy the evening with ‘comfort’ food, as Hamdy describes the Restaurant cuisine. With serious golfers getting in early to catch a game before setting off to work, the Academy has a variety of easy to grab food, from 6.30 in the morning to 11 in the night. Diners can look forward to breakfast, lunch, and dinner or simply enjoy a drink to get the feel of the place. The eclectic menu has an international fare, but the stress is on serving ‘comfort’ food. In a warm ambience that is structured to sprawl all the way on to the lawns, comfort is conspicuous everywhere – food included. As Hamdy notes, it is all about serving easy to grab food, with the menu having popular dishes from all over the globe; the stress is on meeting the expectations of not just the golfers who frequent the course, but also residents and visitors who want their share of goodness in life.
It is a casual dining outfit and there is no pretence otherwise in the food presented. Having earned the HACCP (Hazard analysis and critical control points) certification, the Academy has carved a niche among foodies and even casual diners. Head chef Issa Al Balushi, who has been with the Restaurant since it first opened its doors, has identified the needs of the diners to give every dish an international flavour.
Our dinner took off with a cooler of mixed fruit juice and Greek Salad and got heady with a platter of poached prawns that was served alongside avocado salad and garnished with lime and orange.
There is obviously a twist on healthy fare, as our next dish – lamb chops – was roasted and presented on a bed of stewed beans. The vegetable wrap, however, came with potato chips, and we had no complaints. The fries are extra crispy and delectable.
The desert, again, was a complete indulgence. The slice of peanut butter chocolate cake, packed with cream cheese, caramel and sprinkles of chocolate and peanuts is our kind of comfort food. And the restaurant, our kind of feast for the senses…